Other options also shaky. Central banks leery of Chinese RMB, its share still irrelevant. Euro’s share is stuck. But the yen’s share has been rising.
The US dollar’s position as the dominant global reserve currency is an immensely important factor in supporting the ballooning US government debt, the Fed’s drunken money-printing, and Corporate America’s ambition to offshore production to cheap countries, thereby creating huge and ever-growing trade deficits. They all have become dependent on the willingness of other central banks to hold large amounts of dollar-denominated paper. But from the looks of things, those central banks might be getting a little nervous.
The global share of US-dollar-denominated exchange reserves – US Treasury securities, US corporate bonds, US mortgage-backed securities, etc. held by foreign central banks – fell to 60.5% in the third quarter, according to the IMF’s COFER data release. This is the lowest since 1995. Over the past six years, the dollar’s share has been dropping at a rate of about 1 percentage point per year:
The dollar’s 20-year decline.
Dollar-denominated global foreign exchange reserves do not include the Fed’s own holdings of dollar-denominated assets that it bought as part of its QE, such as its $4.6 trillion in US Treasury securities and $2.1 trillion in US mortgage-backed securities.
The decline in the dollar’s share began 20 years ago when the euro assumed the place of the predecessor currencies, including the Deutsche mark, that used to be in the basket of foreign exchange reserves. But that 20-year 10-percentage-point decline pales compared to the near 40-point plunge in the dollar’s share from 1977 (85%) to 1991 (46%), which was followed by the 25-point surge till 2000.
For now, the motto among these central banks, jointly, seems to be: easy does it. No one wants to trigger a sudden crisis (2020 = Q3):
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